Last fall, I reviewed Railroad Rivals, a really fun stock-trading game from published Forbidden Games. Now, just a few months later, the company is turning to Kickstarter to raise funds for a set of expansions called Robber Baron. They sent me a prototype to look.
What Is Robber Baron?
Robber Baron is a set of expansions for Railroad Rivals. A copy of the original game is required to play. One of those expansion modules adds a sixth player to the original game. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $29 for a copy of the expansion, or $69 if you want both the expansion and the base game.
Robber Baron Components
The expansion adds the following components to the base game:
- 20 green locomotives
- 1 green new player turn order tile
- 1 green hotel
- 1 green water tower
- 10 white passenger/mail goods cubes
- 7 new city tiles to incorporate the new NYNH&H railroad
- 4 NYNH&H stock tiles
- 1 transcontinental railroad tile
- 1 new industry city tile
- 1 railroad headquarters city tile
- 2 locomotive upgrade stock tiles
- 6 stock shenanigans tiles
The quality of all of these components matches the already high quality of the components for the base game. While my review is based on a prototype copy, it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality, but in this case I suspect that these are very close to their final versions.
How to Play Robber Baron
The expansion is actually a set of mini-expansions, any of which can be incorporated in the base game either individually or in multiples.
6th Player Components
The base game included enough to play with five players, but this expansion adds a sixth color, green. In order to play with six, you need to not only add the locomotives for the sixth player, but also add in the white passenger/mail goods, as one of the mechanics from the base game was based around having the same number of components as players.
Likewise, a new railroad stock–NYNH&H–has been added to the game to ensure there are sufficient stock certificates for all players. Because the stocks are scored based on cities connecting with those railroads, the expansion also required adding a new set of city tiles that include the NYNH&H, and replacing the original Boston and New York City tiles with new ones that add the new railroad. Otherwise, the game plays with six in the same way it plays with fewer players. If you’re curious how that works, check out my original review, which includes a detailed breakdown of the basic game play.
Several of the other new components rely on using the “optional bidding order” rule that was in the base game. Essentially, instead of the normal process where players bid only on the starting player, with the rest of the turn order remaining fixed from the prior round, in this variant players bid for each place in the turn order. Again, this isn’t actually new, as it was in the base game rules, but it does move from “optional” to “required” by some of the other changes.
Also adding to this is the idea of rather than a random turn order for the first time, players will bid right from the start. Because the currency of the bid is the players’ points, each player now starts with 10 points instead of zero.
The base game included two mini-expansions: hotels and water towers. Robber Baron includes the pieces needed to play these with the sixth person.
The core of Robber Baron is the new tile types. These can be shuffled into either the city or stock piles at the beginning of the game. Like everything else in Robber Baron, these can be used by independently of the other components in the set.
Transcontinental Railroad City Tile
This tile, which gets four goods cubes and includes four generic “RR” links, can be played like any other city tile. However, its sides are all wild, so it can be matched with any other city tile on the board. Once linked, the wild acts as though it was the type of railroad to which it is connected.
New Industry City Tile
This tile is held in the player’s hand like any other tile, but is only played during the “deliver goods” phase. The player who chooses to use it plays it in front of them, and then chooses any other city tile on the board. They draw new goods cubes from the bag and place them on the tile. The New Industry tile is then removed from play.
Railroad Headquarters City Tile
Like the New Industry tile, the Headquarters tile is kept in the player’s hand until needed. Also like “New Industry,” this tile is played during the Deliver Goods phase. When played, the player may make two deliveries that turn instead of just one. The tile is then removed from play.
Locomotive Upgrade City Tiles
When drawn, this tile is placed in front of the player and grants them one extra point for each goods deliver made in the remainder of the game. Robber Baron includes two locomotive upgrades.
Stock Shenanigan Tiles
In addition to the new city tiles, a set of new stock tiles is available. Each are one-use only tiles that are removed from the game once used. The six tiles include one that allows you to buy a stock from those currently in the draw pile, one that lets you sell all of the stocks for a railroad to gain those points immediately, one that lets you get rid of all of the stock for a particular railroad for five points, one that lets you merge two railroads into one, one that lets you move to the front of the turn order at no cost, and one that allows you to draw two stocks in a turn rather than one.
I’ve been a fan of Railroad Rivals since its release last fall, and I was excited to see what Robber Baron would add. The sixth player components are great if you routinely play with bigger groups, so I was glad to see that added. The other components and rule changes add interesting elements to the game. The stock shenanigans in particular add a “gotcha” element that was missing in the base game that might appeal to more competitive players.
Overall, I think that fans of the base game will be happy to incorporate Robber Baron into their game. Get your pledge in today if you want to get a copy as well.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.